There are times when I recognize my own habitual, seeking behavior—when I’m vying for validation from others.
Until 2014, I had no idea of this phenomenon and that all of the rejection I had continually faced was merely a reflection of my inner conflict—absent resolution.
Conditional boundaries typically underlay any superficial facade I might have otherwise tried to project—as a habitual means of being accepted.
It seems that the more I’ve become emotionally liberated from outdated beliefs and old behaviors, the less attached or bound I remain to other people, places or things.
I’ve sought freedom from locales and lovers, friendships and toxic relationships—in the name of learning to love and live (again), absent conditions or boundaries; in the name of witnessing the love and awe existent throughout this wondrous world beyond the confines of any one city, relationship or occupation.
Emotional freedom has been a painful process to endure for me personally.
We’re constantly seeking connection, yet desiring liberation while having to compromise on the reality of our circumstances, choices and commitments. It’s about letting go of what or who we love or have grown fond of or feel held captive by (freeing them, frees us and vice versa). It’s the things that have kept us tied down to one place over time, or a relationship that has run its course.
It’s inhuman to think that we’re selfish for outgrowing our own nature throughout life simply because change has become necessary. This phenomena will happen to each one of us time and time again.
In my mid-20s, I finally had the courage to tell my father that I’d no longer carry on working for him. This caused a divide in our relationship for quite some time, and to this day, I’m reminded that the pain is still present. Letting go is not always easy, but sometimes it’s a matter of life and death—I did not value my own life for quite some time and my behaviors demonstrated the same.
My attachment to all that I’d grown up with, believing and being told while more or less living a sub-par lifestyle afflicted with substance abuse and a waning desire to live fully, eventually motivated me to steer away from other occupations as well.
I was simply repeating the same or similar behaviors and habits to varying degrees, no matter how far from my origins I ran (escapism).
Only after being challenged by someone—the notion that I was indeed running away, despite believing I was running to—was I finally able to begin facing those lingering issues within.
So whenever I seek, it seems that what I’m looking for or am attracted to remains at a distance from me.
This resulted in that painful realization in 2014, when I began to actually feel and notice people repelling me. I was lost, struggling to make ends meet while trying to pull off the “independent and secure” act. Many, many walks, days and days of writing down thoughts and no shortage of nights of tear-jerking realizations led me to conclude that a new story must be woven into the fabric of my existence.
Now, when I let go or give in and surrender to the nature of all things and my part in it, I’m swept away in the vastness that life has to offer—it’s quite splendid, terrifying, yet always liberating.
It’s totally worth the risks associated with earning our humility, being humbled and learning how to live, absent the illusory attachments so many of us learned along the way.
We’re only holding ourselves captive to others and vice versa, which can be emotionally and even physically draining if we’re not aware of our attachments. Emotional freedom elicits the nostalgic presence of mind and matter while feeling the inexplicable connection to all things in Nature.
Nothing really worries me when I’m emotionally free; it’s when I truly feel the most stable, oddly enough—when I’m vulnerable and acutely aware of my surroundings and my place within the context of this fascinating reality we call life.
Whenever I’ve sought, I was blinded by so much.
It was hard putting things into context when my fears outweighed my passion to move beyond, explore and ultimately grow despite looming uncertainties (this is what Creator wishes for us to know and learn from—to grow, by living through each of these experiences where mystery is met head-on with determination and grace).
We must not take another’s word for it; we must witness it with our own eyes—all that there is to see and experience in this wonderful world; life, that is.
Debt obligations and a fear to leave my “home” behind held me hostage and I was miserable, often (home is the journey; destinations are merely resting points).
My past remains within the construct of memory to continually remind me that turning back has never proven to be the answer. All it’s done is stall any progress I could have experienced otherwise.
By the way, it’s never too late to pick up those pieces of our fragmented lives and make something new from them—something desirable and worthy of bittersweet memories.
To sum it up:
Attachment and seeking have left me penniless, resentful and heartbroken (whether this involved others or not) in the past.
Freedom from the emotional confines of needing acceptance or validation has delivered hard times, but enduring each of those challenging and trying circumstances has only equated to more moments of peace, contented memories and a blissful assurance that anywhere or anything we set our hearts and minds to is possible.
Some of my favorite pastimes these days include walking and cycling or hiking up and down neighboring mountains. I’ve unencumbered myself from much of my debt and no longer subsist on credit (this drastically reduced the means and the how, of which to live within).
If I feel like I’m seeking, I find space for introspection and reflection on where a wrong turn or detour was made and I focus on getting back on track. Writing, or journaling really helps me see my thoughts arrive out in front of me and by sitting with these thoughts and taking the time to write them down, I can process much more efficiently.
I think overall, slowing down significantly is what has really taught me to enjoy life—at a walking pace.
Life will pull us in many directions, if we but let loose the reigns of control that we perceive as necessary aspects to living an ordained, routine lifestyle vs. an exciting and interesting life filled with spontaneity and contrast to social norms or economic ideals.
Things or possessions no longer tempt me the way they used to and superficial relationships are not part of my peripheral awareness either.
Loneliness is combated with the simple awareness of where my needs originate (what’s lacking). This offers me the necessary foresight to reset while establishing a new course. Determining what is merely an illusion and which needs are truly valid offers me insights into leading a productive, emotionally sound lifestyle—free from fickle attachments and undue suffering.
The pain is never forgotten—always felt but emotional freedom (through unconditional forgiveness and acceptance) heals all wounds.
Author: Thayne Ulschmid
Editors: Emily Bartran; Catherine Monkman